Thanks to an upsurge of digitized platforms, employee’s privacy in the workplaces dwindles. Currently, it is possible for employers to scrutinize their staff conversations through emails and social media. Basically, employee privacy rights boil down to protecting the workforce’s private facts and possessions against employer’s prejudice.
On such grounds, an employer who extensively monitors their staff speech, deeds, correspondence and personal life may appear in a court of law for defamation of privacy invasion. Sometimes, employers can invade the privacy of their workers for security reasons. Follow up as we explain more on the areas that employers may meddle.
Email and Internet
Almost all private organizations have installed monitoring tracks on the phones and computers used by the staff. Before allowing employees to use these facilities, it is vital to create well-defined instructions on privacy invasion.
It is common for companies to limit access to unrelated sites. Others monitor internet usage or use programs to supervise staff in actual time. Keeping tabs on all these monitoring platforms can be a tedious and involving task. Luckily, some platforms archive the information for future use.
Although ECPA (Electronics Communication Privacy Act) forbids employers from screening employer’s personal calls, it remains a huge bone of contention. An organization has every right to scrutinize on the calls received within the premises.
Even if ECPA clearly states otherwise, this is a debatable topic. However, the Act insists employers should disclose calls monitoring to the staff.
In other avenues, companies should alert employees about video tracking done within the property. According to the law, companies should not include audio on video recordings as it violates the wiretap law on verbal communications. Besides, surveillance cameras should only come into play to daunt theft or violence.
While companies should supervise staff productivity, employers have every right to privacy in locker rooms, restrooms and break rooms. Above all, NLRB (National Labor Relations Act) bans the use of video surveillance to record deeds among union employees.
There are some exceptions that allow companies to test their staff for alcohol and drugs. Such include employees in roles that have safety perils for themselves and others. Also, workers suspected to be using drugs or physical symptoms like bloodshot eyes and distorted speech.
Since law enforcement does not validate these tests, organizations should make it clear to the staff about their drug policy. This helps and protects a company against future lawsuits.
What are Employee’s Rights at Place of Work?
Employee rights fights for fair pay, privacy and lack of discrimination regardless of sex, religion, nationality and race. While an organization may legally monitor phones and computers, personal items like handbags should be out of bounds. Other employee’s private rights are personal emails and lockers.
State Regulations on Employment Relationships
There is quite a chunk of federal laws based on employment. Some of them include;
- 1964 Civil Rights Act Title VII
This applies to companies with over 15 workers and bans employers from discriminating workers against their race, sex, color and nationality.
- Americans with Disabilities Act
This law defines disability as a physical or mental handicap that restrains principal activities in life. It prohibits discrimination on individuals qualified as disables.
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Touches on employees over 40 years old and prohibits preferences to younger staff.
- Fair Labor Standards Act
Fights for fair length of workdays and overtime requirements for workers.
- Family and Medical Leave Act
These law demand companies to give their workers up to 12 weeks leave for medical reasons and prohibit them from getting replacements during the period.
Job references in Private Companies
Federal law does not defend employee’s private information being shared by a potential employer. Still, it is not prudent to divulge personal information like pay level, work schedule, social security number, date of birth and so forth.
Instead, if one requests such information, the HR department should first inquire the reason behind it and give written authorization. Here are other impeccable monitoring tactics that organizations may consider.
- Personal searches
Bodily or private property searches carry a colossal risk of legal suits. Therefore, never conduct them forcefully.
- GPS Tracking
Depending on the job, companies can track employees if out of the office or when driving company vehicles. In Texas, Minnesota and California, the law bars GPS tracking on company owned cars but not on private ones.
- Postal Mail
Federal laws presume mails delivered in an office as officially delivered. Guided by tort law principles, there are limited cases where opening staff letters may amount to invasion of privacy. Yet, there are situations where organizations may opt to open letters for safety purposes.
- Social Media
Some states bar companies from reprimanding staff because of engaging in social media activities during office hours. NLRB clearly indicates that no job applicants should provide a username or password to access a certain social media platform.
Likewise, employers should not restrict communication among employees on wages and unfair working conditions.